Dennis Martinez / Icon SMI

On this holiday, I always think of Dennis Martinez, because he’s the obvious player to consider when thinking of baseball “presidents”.

It has been well-documented that Martinez struggled with alcohol in the early part of his career and apparently it significantly affected his performance. For the first half of his career (1976-1986), he had a 92 ERA+ over 1873 innings. From when he joined the Expos onward (1987-1998) he had a 122 ERA+ over 2126 innings.

Think how good he would have been if he’d been better during his prime years.

Here’s on quick way of showing how marked his career age split is.

Here are pitchers (1901-present) with the most innings pitched and an ERA+ between 90 and 95 in their first 10 years:

Rk Player IP ERA+ From To Age
1 Bob Groom 2336.1 95 1909 1918 24-33
2 Tom Hughes 2074.1 94 1901 1909 22-30
3 Bob Harmon 2054.0 90 1909 1918 21-30
4 Ross Grimsley 1979.1 93 1971 1980 21-30
5 Sid Hudson 1953.2 93 1940 1952 25-37
6 Jack Fisher 1862.2 90 1959 1968 20-29
7 Jaime Navarro 1862.1 94 1989 1998 22-31
8 Walt Terrell 1850.0 95 1982 1991 24-33
9 Jack Billingham 1840.0 93 1968 1977 25-34
10 Jeff Weaver 1793.2 94 1999 2009 22-32
11 Kevin Gross 1789.2 95 1983 1992 22-31
12 Ray Sadecki 1777.2 95 1960 1969 19-28
13 Ed Willett 1773.1 95 1906 1915 22-31
14 Dennis Martinez 1768.1 93 1976 1985 21-30
15 Woodie Fryman 1715.2 94 1966 1975 26-35
16 Dick Ruthven 1701.1 95 1973 1982 22-31
17 Bobby Witt 1700.2 92 1986 1995 22-31
18 Alex Kellner 1696.2 93 1948 1957 23-32
19 Bill Duggleby 1687.1 95 1901 1907 27-33
20 Jack Scott 1672.2 93 1916 1927 24-35
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/20/2012.

El Presidente is #14 on a list of decent pitchers. Most of these guys are pretty well known and had a least a few high quality seasons as a starting pitcher, but it’s certainly not a list of really good players.

Now, only 22 non-active pitchers have had an ERA+ between 120 and 125 over their final 10 years:

Rk Player IP ERA+ From To Age G GS CG SHO GF W L W-L% SV H R ER BB SO ERA HR BF IBB HBP BK WP Tm
1 Hippo Vaughn 2360.1 123 1912 1921 24-33 332 288 186 36 38 157 116 .575 4 2112 870 637 701 1233 2.43 36 9728 68 6 52 TOT-CHC
2 Urban Shocker 2359.2 125 1919 1928 28-37 360 286 182 27 58 169 104 .619 22 2449 1021 860 539 839 3.28 120 9870 30 2 12 SLB-NYY
3 Dean Chance 2129.0 120 1962 1971 21-30 401 290 83 33 60 128 113 .531 23 1831 817 683 734 1523 2.89 122 8818 74 64 9 69 LAA-CAL-MIN-TOT-DET
4 Carl Hubbell 2116.0 124 1934 1943 31-40 318 257 151 17 47 153 90 .630 19 2081 830 726 425 969 3.09 152 8760 22 0 35 NYG
5 Jim Palmer 2081.1 124 1975 1984 29-38 290 278 113 27 6 139 83 .626 2 1819 768 689 622 1035 2.98 170 8461 14 23 4 32 BAL
6 Pete Alexander 2073.2 124 1921 1930 34-43 288 253 162 13 24 138 94 .595 11 2233 910 761 286 486 3.30 107 8555 14 0 15 CHC-TOT-STL-PHI
7 Eddie Lopat 2030.0 122 1946 1955 28-37 287 269 134 25 10 145 89 .620 2 2021 811 702 535 710 3.11 159 8426 5 35 5 11 CHW-NYY-TOT
8 Sam Leever 2016.0 122 1901 1910 29-38 302 228 179 32 61 157 64 .710 10 1834 721 518 412 627 2.31 20 8016 68 3 28 PIT
9 Jim Scott 1892.0 121 1909 1917 21-29 317 226 123 26 63 107 114 .484 9 1624 686 483 609 945 2.30 21 7487 53 3 32 CHW
10 Bucky Walters 1872.1 121 1940 1950 31-41 247 238 153 28 6 122 90 .575 3 1729 728 618 633 677 2.97 91 7797 24 3 29 CIN-BSN
11 Dizzy Trout 1841.2 123 1944 1957 29-42 339 213 114 21 92 117 105 .527 23 1786 767 648 644 830 3.17 75 7775 0 21 4 24 DET-TOT-BAL
12 Mort Cooper 1817.0 124 1939 1949 26-36 291 236 127 33 38 126 74 .630 13 1649 692 599 559 902 2.97 84 7546 27 7 28 STL-BSN-TOT-CHC
13 Eddie Rommel 1803.1 120 1923 1932 25-34 370 172 97 13 136 121 76 .614 23 1958 862 719 531 431 3.59 91 7751 23 2 22 PHA
14 Mel Parnell 1752.2 125 1947 1956 25-34 289 232 113 20 36 123 75 .621 10 1715 797 682 758 732 3.50 104 7548 3 28 3 41 BOS
15 Dennis Martinez 1746.2 121 1989 1998 34-43 298 248 41 16 13 108 77 .584 3 1624 731 649 459 1024 3.34 144 7227 38 68 10 22 MON-CLE-SEA-ATL
16 Frank Viola 1746.1 125 1987 1996 27-36 256 256 41 10 0 113 86 .568 0 1689 712 645 510 1158 3.32 147 7282 26 31 6 52 MIN-TOT-NYM-BOS-CIN-TOR
17 Ted Lyons 1711.1 125 1934 1946 33-45 214 205 160 12 7 110 86 .561 1 1844 823 687 399 514 3.61 131 7291 16 2 21 CHW
18 Joe Dobson 1675.0 120 1943 1954 26-37 282 222 93 17 39 109 79 .580 14 1569 722 634 617 767 3.41 109 7020 5 7 41 CHW-BOS
19 David Cone 1631.2 125 1993 2003 30-40 249 247 22 7 0 110 75 .595 0 1445 733 678 677 1441 3.74 166 6929 17 74 8 81 KCR-TOT-NYY-BOS-NYM
20 Tiny Bonham 1551.0 120 1940 1949 26-35 231 193 110 21 27 103 72 .589 9 1501 580 528 287 478 3.06 117 6284 9 2 4 NYY-PIT
21 Orval Overall 1535.1 123 1905 1913 24-32 218 182 133 30 30 108 71 .603 12 1232 520 381 551 935 2.23 16 6145 45 0 57 CIN-TOT-CHC
22 Dutch Leonard 1532.2 124 1944 1953 35-44 354 172 81 14 119 96 88 .522 29 1527 642 512 365 620 3.01 71 6380 30 3 39 WSH-PHI-CHC
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/20/2012.

There’s Martinez again–truly amazing for one guy to make both lists. And right away we see that this is a list of much, much better pitchers–most were All-Stars and a few are Hall of Famers.

Alcoholism and other addictions are serious problems. It’s wonderful that Dennis Martinez was able to overcome his addiction, but he’s the exception. It is our duty to help our fellow men and women who struggle with such issues.

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